Random Collisions: The Power of Empathy

Random Collisions NYC

Random Collisions are forums for the random collision of ideas. Jane Jacobs in The Economy of Cities offered the random collision of ideas as an explanation for the success of cities such as New York.
Wednesday, June 6, 2018 & Thursday, June 7, 2018
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?
~ Matthew 6:25
Hope Community Services

HOPE Community Services is the largest food pantry/soup kitchen in Westchester County. Former HOPE Volunteer Coordinator Sue Gedney, former New York State High Chess Champion Joshua Cola, 96 years old volunteer Iris Freed, and Terrance Jackson.  Photo: Gene Shaw

I spent over five years homeless mostly in New Rochelle, NY and discovered the power of empathy to fuel innovation and creativity:
I believe that empathy – the imaginative act of stepping into another person’s shoes and viewing the world from their perspective – is a radical tool for social change and should be a guiding light for the art of living. Over the past decade, I have become convinced that it has the power not only to transform individual lives, but to help tackle some of the great problems of our age, from wealth inequality to violent conflicts and climate change.
It is important to understand what empathy is and is not. If you see a homeless person living under a bridge you may feel sorry for him and give him some money as you pass by. That is pity or sympathy, not empathy. If, on the other hand, you make an effort to look at the world through his eyes, to consider what life is really like for him, and perhaps have a conversation that transforms him from a faceless stranger into a unique individual, then you are empathising. ~ Roman Krznaric

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Solving Big Problems: Innovation is Not Creativity

What happened to the future?

What Happened to the Future? is the title of the manifesto of the Founders Fund. The subtitle is “We Wanted Flying Cars, Instead We Got 140 Characters.” Jason Pontin in the MIT Technology Review wrote an article entitled “Why We Can’t Solve Big Problems:”
[B]ig problems that people had imagined technology would solve, such as hunger, poverty, malaria, climate change, cancer, and the diseases of old age, have come to seem intractably hard….
Max Levchin, [a] cofounder of PayPal, says, “I feel like we should be aiming higher. The founders of a number of startups I encounter have no real intent of getting anywhere huge … There’s an awful lot of effort being expended that is just never going to result in meaningful, disruptive innovation.”

Juicero

The idea that “there’s an awful lot of effort being expended that is just never going to result in meaningful, disruptive innovation” is brought to life in a Guardian article by Ben Tarnoff, “America has become so anti-innovation – it’s economic suicide:”
Juicero made the perfect punchline: a celebrated startup that had received a fawning profile from the New York Times and $120m in funding from blue-chip VCs such as Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Google Ventures was selling an expensive way to automate something you could do faster for free. It was, in any meaningful sense of the word, a scam.
Juicero is hilarious. But it also reflects a deeply unfunny truth about Silicon Valley, and our economy more broadly. Juicero is not, as its apologists at Voxclaim, an anomaly in an otherwise innovative investment climate. On the contrary: it’s yet another example of how profoundly anti-innovation America has become.

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Documentary Addressing Inequity in America

StartUpTown Weekend - NYC

September 2014 Harlem NYC

Make America Again!
Then Your Light Will Rise

And if you give yourself to the hungry And satisfy the desire of the afflicted, Then your light will rise in darkness And your gloom will become like midday. ~ Isaiah 58:10

Hope Community Services

HOPE Volunteer Coordinator Sue Gedney, 2013 New York State High School Chess Champion Joshua Cola, 94 years old volunteer Iris Freed and Terrance Jackson. HOPE Community Services is the largest food pantry/soup kitchen in Westchester County. Photo: http://www.geneshaw.com/

Following in the footsteps of people such as Jack London, George Orwell, and Steve Jobs, Terrance Jackson spent over two years homeless in New Rochelle, NY and discovered the power of empathy to fuel innovation and creativity:

I believe that empathy – the imaginative act of stepping into another person’s shoes and viewing the world from their perspective – is a radical tool for social change and should be a guiding light for the art of living. Over the past decade, I have become convinced that it has the power not only to transform individual lives, but to help tackle some of the great problems of our age, from wealth inequality to violent conflicts and climate change.

It is important to understand what empathy is and is not. If you see a homeless person living under a bridge you may feel sorry for him and give him some money as you pass by. That is pity or sympathy, not empathy. If, on the other hand, you make an effort to look at the world through his eyes, to consider what life is really like for him, and perhaps have a conversation that transforms him from a faceless stranger into a unique individual, then you are empathising. ~ Roman Krznaric

Roman Krznaric - Empathy

RSA Animate – The Power of Outrospection – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BG46IwVfSu8

During this time as a homeless person, Terrance developed a event something like a Harlem version of SXSW called StartUpTown Weekend. This will include the Health is a Human Right Concert at the Apollo.